The first of several sets of stairs.

Gearing up for a new STRAVA challenge – the Dipsea Climbing Challenge


Run up 6,600 feet in three weeks! is the site that I use to upload my runs off my Garmin. I love analyzing my runs, seeing my pace and elevation and giving “kudos” to my fellow Strava runners. I find it really keeps me on track with my training.

I also find Strava’s monthly challenges very motivating, and this month is no exception. The Dipsea challenge for runners, that started this past Saturday, is named in honor of one of the oldest and wildest races in the US, the Dipsea. The challenge is to run up 6,000 feet of elevation during your runs over a three week period.

I figure I’ll be lucky to run half that, but the calf muscles I get attempting this challenge will be well worth the effort. The Dipsea sounded interesting, so I decided to do a little research. It is the oldest cross country trail running even and one of the oldest foot races of any kind in the US. Located in Marin County, California, it is 7.5 miles (12k) long and has about 2200 feet of elevation gain. It has been held almost every year since 1905, and June 14th will mark the 105th edition of the race.


The unique handicap system allows the oldest and the youngest racers to get up to a 25 minute advantage over the fastest competitors. That couples with the permissible secret shortcuts, make it possible for the winner to come from any age group. Previous winners include children as young as 8 and women as old as 72.


The first of several sets of stairs.

The first of several sets of stairs.

As of this morning, I have 642 of the 6600ft covered and 20 days left… We’ll see how close I get to the goal, but already I’ve been seeking out the hills in my neighborhood that I usually avoid. Win/win.

I’ll let you know how it goes.

What challenges are you doing? Would you ever consider a race like the Dipsea?



How to Make a Training Schedule for Running That Fits You


Some of my many running books.

How I made my schedule in the past:

1. Buy many running books looking for magic tips on how to run.

2. Put running books on shelf in library dedicated to running books.

3. Dust off books (trying to figure out who you lent the missing ones to).

4. Ask your running friends what schedule they are using.

5. Use whichever running friends’ schedule sounds easiest…

So, my approach has kind of worked in the past, but I’m hoping to do a better job this year. I’d like to get a PB in a half marathon this fall. So, I dusted off my running books again. I figured out where the missing one is (it’s okay Tab – I don’t need that one). Then I started looking at the training programs and comparing them to what has worked for me in the past.

I’ve tried running 5-6 days a week, like the programs in the book “Running” by Jim Stanton, and although I got good results as far as time, I ended up with injuries and I wore myself out. Mainly I think this is because I am now an over 40 runner.  What I did like about it was that it was very structured, and I need that or I slack off. Last year I tried programs from the Runner’s World “Run Less Run Faster ” book. I liked this program because you do 3 key runs a week, which is great for my old lady body. The speedwork workouts were really effective, but if there was any workout I would ever skip, it would be that one because, well, they are hard. I was also supposed to do cross training two other days, but I’m not a swimmer, or a biker, or a rower, so I kind of failed at that part of it. I think it is a very effective program – and a couple of my friends use it and really like it, however, I think I need something a little different.

So, what’s my plan for this year?

Well, I purchased a book in the last couple of years called “Run Faster, From the 5k to the Marathon” – how to be your own best coach. It talks about “adaptive running” and finding out what works for you.  After looking into it again, frankly, I decided I needed to stop being lazy and take the time to do a specific plan that works for me.

The book has many training plans, most that include 6 days a week of running, and it has a large section dedicated to schedules to get your Boston Marathon qualifying time. Near the back of the book, however, I found a chapter on “Adaptive Running for Youth and Masters Runners”.  There was a 10k training schedule that had 3 runs a week, a day of cross training (I can perhaps hike, bike or do a fun trail run) 3 days of core work and a day off. I combined this schedule with their Intermediate level Half Marathon training schedule by swapping out the long runs in the 10k training for the long runs in the Half Marathon training. I also decided to add a session of Yoga on two of the Core workout days. I already have my favorite yoga video picked out:

Now I just need a core strengthening workout…


A sample page of my training schedule.

The 3 main reasons why I think this plan will work for me are:

  1. The 3 key runs are incorporated, but they are varied. There are long runs, progression runs, anaerobic hill intervals, ladder workouts, threshold runs, speed intervals, fartlek  and specific-endurance intervals.  Having variety in my workouts makes me dread them less. If I can’t anticipate the pain, it doesn’t feel as bad. :)
  2. I have a detailed plan with all my workouts penciled in every day. Having my core workouts and yoga planned along with my runs makes it more likely that they’ll get done. That’s just how I am, I love checking things off… I NEED to check things off…
  3. The idea of “adaptive running” includes knowing when you should switch out one workout for another. If you wake up feeling terrible, then your long run or speedwork won’t be very productive. Alternatively, waking up in the mood for a big workout and only doing a core session isn’t productive either. This training method encourages you to be comfortable with rearranging your runs when necessary as long as you get it all in. This is good for me, because I normally end up feeling like I failed if I don’t do things when my plan says to do them.

The bottom line is, there are many great books out there and many great training plans. I would recommend all 3 of the books I mentioned above. But, by taking into consideration your personality, your past experience and your abilities, you can – with a little work – devise a plan that is perfect for you and find your true running potential.

You can figure out how to be your own coach and, perhaps, run faster than you ever thought possible! (that’s the plan anyways :) )

SO… what training schedules or tips have you benefited from. And does anyone know of a good YouTube video for core strengthening they can recommend?




My Running Week in Pictures – what I wouldn’t have seen if I hadn’t been running.


Pioneer Tower in Kitchener

My first 2 runs this week weren’t too eventful. The most interesting thing I could think of to take a picture of was my t-shirt.


On Friday, however, I went on a long 15k run with a friend and we took a new route. We started from my place, but ran somewhere I’ve never gone before, and probably wouldn’t have gone if I wasn’t running.


Foot Bridge over to river


Pioneer Tower

This weekend I finally got a chance to do some “cottage running” in Bayfield.


Stairs down to Bayfield Beach


Pretty pink tree – wish I knew what it was…

I’ll be wrapping up my long weekend with a 15k run with another friend tomorrow morning.

Oh yes, and I started off my runner’s tan early this year…runningtandummy

How was your week running? Did you see anything you wouldn’t have seen if you weren’t Out Running?



Check In: Half way through my C25K


After a break from running, I’ve finally gotten back into a regular routine by using a couch to 5k app on my phone.  This week I finished week four, and I’m now officially half way through it!

For the most part, I’ve been enjoying the program.  Running is definitely not as easy or enjoyable as it used to be for me, so having a simple structured schedule to follow has been helping me to get motivated.  The first couple of weeks it was a struggle to get myself out the door, but I’m starting to look forward to getting out for my run.  I usually go in the evening, once my little babe is down for the night, and it’s a great way to relax and end the day.

Last night, I met up with my sister-in-law, Tabitha for my run.  Tabitha is also doing the C25K program.  When I was getting groceries earlier this week, I drove down a street lined with blossoming crab apple trees, and I kind of obsessed about how beautiful it was.  We both have been running the same boring routes over and over again close to home, so we decided to drive to this neighborhood for our run.  It was worth it.  It even smelled great!


wpid-wp-1431567865368.jpg wpid-wp-1431567847370.jpg


DSC_0815_3 2


A Quiet Sunday Morning Run …




Cherry blossoms.


Happy little tulip.


Quiet path to run on.


Cute little bridge to run over. :)

I’m fortunate enough to have lots of quiet paths near my place to take a quiet Sunday morning run. I did a leisurely 5k (my last recovery run before getting back into a training schedule) and popped into the grocery store for some eggs for breakfast.

Unfortunately you can’t run home with eggs – but I had a nice 2.5k walk home…followed by some French toast.

I hope you enjoyed your Sunday run.



My week of running – including the Mississauga Half Marathon and a sea of Trilliums

I had an adventurous week in running which started with the Mississauga Half Marathon at 7:30am Sunday morning. I’d been dreading this half all month. I ended up getting sick at the beginning of April with the cold/flu that has been going around, and that I had managed to avoid up until then. My coughing had almost subsided, but I still had a lot of chest congestion and a couple of weeks before the race I barely managed to finish a 13k. Anyway – I was quite worried how it would turn out.


I’m the one in the pink socks – in case anyone was worried… ;)

Well, it ended up turning out pretty well. I decided to run with a friend who was getting over his own illness and that took the pressure off. Even if it was a terrible run, it wouldn’t be as bad because I had a running buddy with me. We ended up helping each other through (he pushed me faster through the first 17k and I got him through the last 4k) and finishing just under 2 hours (1:59:40), considerably better than we thought we’d do.


Beautiful morning for a race – the empty start line early in the morning.


The day was beautiful. It wasn’t too cold to start and the sun didn’t come out until just before we finished.


Off to a happy start.


This Mississauga Half might be my favorite Half Marathon. It is large, but not too crowded, well supported and well organized. I love starting in Mississaga and ending in Port Credit. The running Expo before the race is amazing too. Lots of freebies and an amazing goodie bag. I wish I had remembered to take a picture.



After the race, grabbing my swag and filling my face.


I highly recommend it.

I wanted to get right back at it and use the excitement of the race to kick start my summer runs, so I ran a slow 3.5k on Monday, and a slow 8.5k (with 10 walking breaks – eek) on Wednesday. On Thursday I had a “back to normal” 5k that included this beautiful sea of Trilliums.


Trilliums as far as the eye can see!

I’ve learned from my last 2 races that I have been taking it easy on myself. I’ve proved to myself that I have the ability push harder in a race than I thought I could. I also know I can push harder in training – at least the speedwork part. So, I’ve set a goal for next year’s Mississauga Half of 1:45…

What are your favorite training programs? Any special workouts that you’ve found increased your speed?

Have a great weekend everyone! I hope you have a fun running weekend. If all goes well, I may just get a cottage run in on Saturday. (squeal)



My Epiphany


I’ve had an epiphany. I should eat better. Okay – I know that’s nothing new, I’m sure I read articles almost daily everywhere I go on eating healthy. But the other day, I read an article on the blog Run to the Finish called Get lean, get fast and stay strong.  It was an article about fueling your body and eating right as a runner. Again, I know that’s nothing new, but there was a sentence in the post that finally hit home with me. She said “You’d never buy cheap running shoes; why put fake, low cost food into your body.” And then I thought about how silly I’ve been all this time. I’ve been telling myself (and frankly anyone who comments on my eating habits) that I like eating and that’s why I run. That it’s no big deal for me to eat cupcakes and burgers and poutine (fries, cheese curds, gravy – enough said). However, I will only wear Mizuno running shoes ($150), I favor Lululemon tights ($100) to run in and I can’t go anywhere without my Garmin GPS watch, but I’ll fuel my body with sugary treats, fatty foods and often skip the fruits and vegetables. Where is the sense in that?


It reminds me of when I started running. Up until I started running, I didn’t work out. I didn’t enjoy working out and I teased my friends who did work out. However, when I got to around 36 or 37, I noticed a few pounds creeping on and I figured that it was now or never. Either I got into shape before I hit forty or I might never do it. I chose running. Of course, I hated it at first, but I stuck it with it and slowly, very slowly, I started to like it. Then I wished I had started sooner – all those years of running I’d missed out on. Now my running shoes go almost everywhere I do – you never know when an opportunity to run will arise.

runningclothesarepretty mississauga3

That’s a lot of gear!

So what if it’s the same with eating healthy? What if I start to enjoy healthy foods as much as I enjoy a burger and poutine? What if I’ve been missing out all these years because I’m content with what I’ve been doing? I had been making some baby steps (little, itty bitty, tiny baby steps) towards healthiness and I bought a Vitamix (I needed a blender that would make kale perfectly smooth in a smoothie). It was a surprise to me that I found that I like a banana strawberry smoothie as much, if not better than a Blizzard.

Well, Run to the Finish’s article may have just given me the push that I need to make a change.

Please (please, please) comment with your favourite, tried and true recipes for healthy entrees. (Oh, and keep in mind that I’m a newbie to this and it needs to resemble real food – heehee). I know as an over 40 runner, that this will be a benefit to me and I know that my fellow blogger and new mom, Amanda, would also appreciate some new recipes to kick start her trek back into running. Can’t wait to see what you’ve got for us!